Pinch must read this blog! Henry Fountain of the NYT takes on cow poop in the Science Section. Way to go, c’uz – I’ll expect a nice note of gratitude later.
Daily Archives: December 28, 2009
Though the cheapest houses on the market may not get much cheaper, more-expensive homes still have further to fall, which will likely slow the broader housing recovery.
The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home-price indexes for October are due on Tuesday morning. Economists estimate the index tracking prices in 20 major cities was down 7.7% from a year ago.
That would mark the smallest year-over-year decline since November 2007, but would also leave prices slightly lower than in September, ending a four-month string of month-to-month improvements. That might cause some anxiety about the housing recovery.
Despite recent signs of a bottom, many observers expect home prices to fall an additional 10% before the bust ends.
The worst of the subprime-mortgage defaults has likely passed, most analysts agree. That could explain why low-end homes are decreasing as a percentage of total foreclosures, while middle- and high-end homes are taking bigger shares, according to Zillow.com data.
That shift suggests price declines will prove more pronounced in middle and higher-end housing brackets, which haven’t yet fallen as far as the broader market. In San Francisco, high-end prices are down just 25% from their peak, compared with 39% for the broader regional market, according to Case-Shiller data.
Monthly payments for adjustable-rate mortgages, which helped many buyers afford more-expensive homes, could rise next year, either due to payment resets or rising interest rates. That trend threatens more defaults on higher-priced properties, which would weigh on prices.
44 Grahmpton, purchased for $5.125 in 2006, listed again at $6.995 in ’07 (with a lot of improvements) and finally dropped to $4.995 this past July, has a contract.
181 Milbank West, a condo that failed to sell at $3.150 back in ’05 and ’06, sold for $2.135.
42 Lockwood Avenue in Old Greenwich listed at $2.495, sold for $1.9.
20 Heronvue, a spec house, has rented for $12,000 per month. I’m not sure that’s going to help its builder all that much.
19 Willow, another spec house but this one in Riverside, priced at $3.695, is reported as “pending” which means, sort of a contract but with one or more contingencies unmet.
Meet the carbon tort.
Across the country, trial lawyers and green pressure groups—if that’s not redundant—are teaming up to sue electric utilities for carbon emissions under “nuisance” laws.
A group of 12 Gulf Coast residents whose homes were damaged by Katrina are suing 33 energy companies for greenhouse gas emissions that allegedly contributed to the global warming that allegedly made the hurricane worse.
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and seven state AG allies plus New York City are suing American Electric Power and other utilities for a host of supposed eco-maladies. A native village in Alaska is suing Exxon and 23 oil and energy companies for coastal erosion.What unites these cases is the creativity of their legal chain of causation and their naked attempts at political intimidation. “My hope is that the court case will provide a powerful incentive for polluters to be reasonable and come to the table and seek affordable and reasonable reductions,” Mr. Blumenthal told the trade publication Carbon Control News. “We’re trying to compel measures that will stem global warming regardless of what happens in the legislature.”
Mull over that one for a moment. Mr. Blumenthal isn’t suing to right a wrong. He admits that he’s suing to coerce a change in policy no matter what the public’s elected representatives choose.
The Brownie Award to Janet Napolitano ?
The Who’s Pete Townshend is scheduled to perform at the Super Bowl but there’s a problem: He’s a registered sex offender. Ordinarily, registered sex offenders are barred from entering the United States so something’s going to have to be worked out or our national holiday’s gonna be all screwed up. Hmm, how could a guy like that sneak into our airspace, no questions asked?
No major media will touch the “drunk on the floor” story of our Senate Finance Chairman, but at least one liberal blog has come to his defense. The Washington Independent says Baucus wasn’t drunk because there was once a similar story about Joe Biden who, it turns out, is a teetotaler and a stroke victim. I’ll concede a stroke to Baucus – maybe that would explain nominating his girlfriend for Montana’s US Attorney – but not drinking doesn’t seem to be part of his story.
Yesterday’s statement that TSA security was working exactly as it was designed to proving insufficient to convince anyone, Janet Napolitino has now admitted that there might be a flaw in it, somewhere. She’ll study the issue and get back to us.
Sometimes the stupidity is too much to bear. From the new guidelines for international air travel:
U.S.-bound passengers aboard international flights must undergo a “thorough pat-down” at boarding gates, focused on the upper legs and torso.
Thanks for letting us know, TSA, that the search should be focused on the upper legs and torso. As I’ve said on numerous occasions, pat-downs that ignore the crotch and the ass are useless. We recently saw in Saudi Arabia the detonation of a rectal bomb, so it really doesn’t take much creativity to imagine that terrorists will be taping explosives to their scrotums. Of course, TSA is not going to be feeling-up people’s scrotums anytime soon, so the question remains: Why does our government continue to make believe that it can stop terrorists from boarding civilian planes when anyone with half-a-brain and a spare two minutes can think up a dozen ways to bypass the symbolic security measures at our airports?
Next item: “Passengers must remain seated for the final hour before landing. During that time, they may not have access to their carry-on baggage or hold personal items on their laps.” But what about their underwear? Can they have access to their underwear, which is where our latest would-be Muslim martyr apparently hid his bomb? And why can’t we have access to our laptops, if they’ve already been screened?
By the way, these rules, the Washington Post says, are in effect only until December 30th. In January, you see, the jihad is over. That, or the TSA needs until December 30th to properly promulgate a formal set of inane new rules, to add to the inane rules currently in place. Here’s an alternative suggestion for the Obama administration: Focus on capturing and killing Islamist terrorists overseas. By the time they get to the airport, it is, generally speaking, too late.
How about a no-fly rule for anyone who’s been to Yemen, Pakistan or hell, the whole middle-east?
At ThreatsWatch.org, Steve Schippert and Clyde Middleton have dug up the bizarre and unsettling issuance of an executive order recently signed by President Barack Obama. Executive Order — Amending Executive Order 12425, signed December 16 and released a day later, grants the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) rights on American soil that place it beyond the reach of our own law enforcement agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Schippert and Middleton note that Obama’s order removes protections placed upon INTERPOL by President Reagan in 1983. Obama’s order gives the group the authority to avoid Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests — which means this foreign law enforcement organization can operate free of an important safeguard against governmental abuse. “Property and assets,” including the organization’s records, cannot be searched or seized. Their physical locations and records are now immune from U.S. legal or investigative authorities.
If the president of the United States has an aboveboard reason for making a foreign law enforcement agency exempt from American laws on American soil, it wasn’t shared by the White House.Andy McCarthy, former assistant United States attorney for the Southern District of New York and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, notes at National Review that the limitations that Obama removed are “what prevents law-enforcement and its controlling government authority from becoming tyrannical.”A paragraph later, McCarthy describes Obama’s actions in the starkest of terms:This international police force (whose U.S. headquarters is in the Justice Department in Washington) will be unrestrained by the U.S. Constitution and American law while it operates in the United States and affects both Americans and American interests outside the United States.
With the flourish of a pen and no warning at all, Barack Obama surrendered American sovereignty to an international force with a checkered past. To what end?
Bring on the black helicopters
I remember thinking that $3.250 was a ridiculous price to ask for any house on Benjamin Street back in 2004, even this one. But it did sell, for $2.683 in ’05. Now it’s back, asking $2.865 million. I’m not hazarding a guess this time because Benjamin Street buyers seem to be different than others.
Professor Brainbridge points out that, predictably, the TSA has responded to the latest shoebomber fuss by piling on stupid, useless regulations.
I’ve pointed this out since 9/11: nothing our government is doing with airlines is making us safer – it is done merely to give the appearance that they’re doing something.
Useful as flashlights for the blind.
This unit hit the market back in 2006 asking $1.795 million. Well over one thousand days later, in October 2009 it dropped to $795,000 and is reported today under contract. Assessment is $1.153 – there should be some interesting revaluations coming to this complex next year.